Friday, October 14, 2011

Broken rules and the Cheltenham Showcase

There will be those who will say it could only happen here. On the eve of the richest day's racing ever staged in Britain, the headlines are of Richard Hughes' decision to hand in his licence after a second ban under the new whip rules and the possibility of a jockeys' strike which is set to take place on Monday.

Frankel is expected to do his bit to redress the balance in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (3.35 Ascot), a race in which course and distance winner Dick Turpin makes some each-way appeal at around 25/1 provided the eight start; Christophe Soumillon takes over from Richard Hughes who was originally booked to ride.

I'll concentrate on the second day of the Cheltenham Showcase meeting, looking for pointers for the future. Only nine declared for the feature Trophy at 3.50 but it looks a trappy affair. Connections appear to be hoping for a good show from Benny Be Good who carries top weight but may well have a fitness advantage over market rivals Galaxy Rock, Chicago Grey and Balthazar King. Tim Vaughan's stable is in fine form (8 wins from 29 runs in past fortnight); of the two entries here Definite Dawn appears to have the best chance with a light weight but two wins at Cartmel and Fontwell indicate this is a big step up in class. Balthazar King is the one I like but his fitness is unknown so I won't get involved.

The winner of the opener is likely to come from amongst the Irish runners while I've seen Benbane Head touted more times than I care to recall in the past 12 months; he may take the 2.40 (trainer Martin Keighley won the Lemington Maiden Hurdle with Court In Session earlier today) but the price doesn't appeal. Evan Williams comments in the Weekender that this is likely to be Buck Mulligan's last race before being put away for the winter. This evening layers appear divided about the chances of front runner Billie Magern - Ladbrokes offer 12/1 while Coral go 11/2. This is the time of year for the Twiston-Davies yard but perhaps they've been quieter than in previous seasons. Billie Magern is likely to try and make all but doesn't jump as well as Ollie (Magern) used to; nevertheless I'll take an each-way interest at 12/1.

The 4.55 often throws up an interesting novice chaser and the presence of Zaynar (third behind Binocular in the 2010 Champion Hurdle) means this year's renewal will be no exception. Now with Nick Williams after some indifferent performances last year, the grey is unlikely to have things all his own way with another grey, Paul Nicholls' Toubab, in the field while Evan Williams' Lancetto was described in his schooling over fences as 'a bit hit and miss - in fact some were downright x-rated...' [Weekender] after arriving from Ireland. That said, the gelding jumped well for much of the trip when winning last time out at Newton Abbot, although the tendency to occasionally veer right at the obstacles won't serve his cause well here.

In the bumper filly Amber Cloud would represent a play against likely favourite Alexandr Nevsky.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Frankel (4/11f) came home in splendid isolation to confirm his superstar status; Dick Turpin (14/1) failed to make a place in fifth.

A few non-runners at Cheltenham, presumably on account of the quick ground. Balthazar King (11/4) won the feature but Benny Be Good, Galaxy Rock and My Moment were non-runners. For the most part BK jumped well out in front, although he stood well back off a couple and on one occasion looked lucky to clear the obstacle. He must be considered a fortunate winner though as the 9/4 market leader Chicago Grey looked to have the race in the bag approaching the penultimate flight before unseating Paul Carberry.

Billie Magern (11/2) isn't the biggest but he enjoyed himself up front and jumped well enough on this occasion - he won, chased home by Buck Mulligan. 2/1f Benbane Head made a howler early on and was on and off the bridle thereafter, coming home fourth.

Toubab (5/4f) appeared to have won the novice chase but he tied up close home and was caught by 7/2 chance Lancetto who once again displayed a tendency to jump right.

Clondaw Warrior (5/2) beat Just Tammy (40/1) a neck in the bumper with 15/8f Amber Cloud six lengths away in third.